WE asked huge racing fan and friend of WeLoveBetting Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) to give us his three bets bets for the Cheltenham Festival.
Hidden Cyclone | Ryanair Chase | Thursday 14.40
Sadly Rock on Ruby won't be lining up in the World Hurdle on Thursday but on the same day I have a strong fancy in the Ryanair Chase in the form of last year’s runner up Hidden Cyclone.
Trained in Carlow by John Joseph Hanlon, Hidden Cyclone isn't going to be one of the headline acts on display this week. But he is undoubtedly the stable star and I believe he could be on course to deliver the stable their highest profile winner.
2015 has been up and down for our selection so far, falling on his first two races before coming second to Twinlight in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown, then turning the tables on that rival at Punchestown in February.
This form doesn't scream out Ryanair winner but don't let this put you off. Here's why: in his two previous trips to Cheltenham he’s ran with distinction, coming third in the Paddy Power Gold Cup where he was trying to give a stone to the winner, course specialist John's Spirit.
His other trip resulted in him coming second to Dynaste in this race last year, where he led at the last only to be outstayed close home. There is no Dynaste this year and I believe it’s a weaker field this time around.
Favourite Don Cossack has strong form but he's never won left-handed and fell on his only visit to Cheltenham in the RSA. Second favourite Ma Filleule is, according to her trainer a spring horse, but her form this year hasn't progressed to Group 1 level and the biggest threat may come from Balder Success. He has the best form on offer this season, but his course form is abysmal failing to complete in three visits to Prestbury Park.
Hidden Cyclone in my eyes will finally gain the Group 1 win he deserves after being runner up on four occasions. I expect him to be in front again jumping the last and with no Dynaste this year I expect him to hold on. At 8/1 (BetBright) he is a great bet.
Beltor | Triumph Hurdle | Friday 13:30
The Triumph Hurdle is historically a difficult race to find the winner, but since the introduction of the Fred Winter it's become less of a lottery and a higher class race in my eyes.
Peace and Co is a worthy favourite, with two visually impressive victories in the UK. He followed up a Grade 2 win at Doncaster with a Triumph Hurdle trial win over course and distance under a penalty in January. He is definitely the horse to beat, but I have found one that just may.
Beltor won a hot juvenile hurdle at Ludlow in January earning a 33/1 quote for the Triumph. Next up was the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton where he dismantled a good field, travelling like the winner under a confident Tom O'Brien, and he looks a horse with a big future as a hurdler.
Now he is a 13/2 chance with BetBright, but I can see Beltor giving trainer Robert Stephens his first Cheltenham winner and in turn giving us a great start to Day 4.
Coneygree | RSA Chase | Wednesday 14:05
The RSA Chase is another race that is the bookies friend. It's been a graveyard for favourites with some big prices thrown up over the years. This year I have managed to narrow the race down to a shortlist of one.
Coneygree stands head and shoulders above this field, and providing connections aren't tempted to line up in the Gold Cup, he has this race at his mercy.
A winner of two graded Novice Hurdles around Cheltenham, he signed off his novice hurdle campaign chasing home At Fishers Cross and The New One, both of whom won Grade 1 races at the festival as novice hurdlers.
He has arguably taken his form to a new level over fences, winning his chase debut in a Grade 2 at Newbury after 18 months off, before turning a messy Feltham into a precession.
He then took on seasoned chasers running them into the ground in the Denman Chase. His no nonsense front running style will keep him out of trouble and the 7/2 on offer with BetBright is phenomenal value!
Ryanair Chase – Hidden Cyclone (8/1 BetBright)
Triumph Hurdle – Beltor to win (13/2 BetBright)
RSA Chase – Coneygree to win (7/2 BetBright)
What do you think of Graeme's picks? Agree? Disagree?
What's your best bet for the Festival?